Cardi B's Nail Technician Talks Swarovski-Encrusted Acrylic Grammys Manicure

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NARAS
Cardi B attends the 60th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, 2018 in New York City. 

With the meteoric rise of Bronx-born, Billboard Hot 100-topping rapper Cardi B (née Belcalis Almanzar), her ascent into uber-stylish stardom came into full bloom on Sunday night (Jan. 28) during the 2018 Grammy Awards red carpet.

Dripping in emerald-cut diamonds from Messika (P!nk and Zendaya are both fans), a made-to-order white lace gown with dramatically winged butterfly sleeves and train from Ashi Studio, and her fashion go-to: sky-high Christian Louboutin stilettos, Cardi’s sartorial prowess shined bright. And equally as captivating as her lady-like 'fit was the "Bartier Cardi" emcee's Swarovski-encrusted acrylic manicure from her right-hand nail technician of over five years, Jenny Bui of Nails On 7th in the Bronx and Harlem neighborhoods of New York.

"Before she wore her nails so crazy, like putting ice cream on them and for the Grammys, we didn't do as much as we usually do. We wanted to complement her white dress," Bui tells Billboard after putting the final touches on Cardi's nails Sunday night. The results? Two coats of nude-colored polish on her pointed-tip stiletto nail complete with iridescent Swarovski crystals with flecks of blue, green, and pink shimmers and tiny pink pearl accents that took nearly two hours to complete from start to finish. "I think about her personality and her nail [is a reflection of that]," says Bui, who used products from her nail line Jenny Secret on Cardi. She adds that Cardi enjoys listening to a mix of music in the salon, notably Beyonce and her fiancee Offset (Bui also did her future mother-in-law's nails for the Grammys). "She said 'Jenny you know what, when I don't put bling, Offset asks why I didn't add them and that I should go do my nails.' They're so funny," Bui says with a laugh.

This particular manicure will last about a month, which is the same timeframe as the other colorful manicures Bui has custom created for Cardi, including Bui's personal favorite from her high-energy performance at the 2017 MTV Awards. "I used the most expensive Swarovski crystals [I could find] for her," she adds.

"My ringtone is 'Bodak Yellow' and I play all of her music in the salon. Sometimes the customers will say they hear Cardi's song enough on the radio, and then they hear it in my salon, but I tell them that I don't care, I'm still playing it. My girl supports me, and I have to support her back! She doesn't even treat me like her nail tech; she treats me like her family," she says. And for Cardi the feeling is genuinely mutual. After Bui surprised her with red roses, a birthday cake, and manicure featuring Offset's face for her 25th birthday, the two-time Grammy nominee declared on Instagram, "Yeah, your nail lady don't love you like my nail lady love me. She loves me! My nail lady love me! She's like my freakin' aunt." Bui, who was seen teary-eyed in the video tell us: "She said something privately to me and I felt so emotional and overjoyed.  She gives me so much respect and [even with a tight schedule] I never can say no to her."

And as for what's next for the pair? More crystals and music-inspired nails, naturally. "She's very busy with work, but I'd like to do [a Bodak Yellow-inspired] "red bottom" nails when she has more time in her schedule."